Bimbo Banter

We Didn’t Start the Fyre

  • Crisis
  • May 1, 2017
  • by Sally Ann Rivera

How do you start a Fyre in the middle of the Caribbean? Apparently, you don’t. The social media influencer myth is starting to unravel. If you haven’t been indulging in schadenfreude over the disaster that was musical artist Ja Rule’s failed (or postponed?) Fyre Festival, peruse #fyrefestival, best summed up by the photo of the promised "gourmet meals."

Hey @GordonRamsay what would you rate #fyrefestival gourmet meals?

— Rain Man (@omgRainMan) April 28, 2017

Fans spent thousands for the luxury getaway that resembled a crowded version of the film Castaway with jets stuck on the runway, no electricity and a lack of accommodations. Heavily promoted over Instagram, the festival turned out to be the greatest hoax of 2017.

While Ja Rule will need a lot of crisis communication help over the next few months, more important is the lesson for you: authenticity still rules. (And not the kind Ja Rule spoke about at SXSW this March, which he obviously failed to deliver.)

What else we can learn from the Fyre that went out before it even started:

  • Listen to your audience—Fyre failed to monitor what its audience was saying and feeling. When the festival quickly turned into a disaster, it failed Crisis 101 as it ignored (or worse, didn’t know about) the plentiful photos of an empty Customer Relations tent. Meanwhile, on social media, the festival was still promoting and glossing over the facts, claiming the event was only “postponed.”
  • Organic content has the best return—while it can be tempting to click and buy thousands of Instagram followers or throw money at “Instagram models” to push content, stories from real employees and real customers will go further. As the pay-for-play bubble starts to burst, your audience will value real content from genuine advocates.
  • Life goes on outside the phone—and what your audience sees better match what you’ve been promoting on social media. The concept of alignment rings eternally true. Just like our favorite PacifiCare example, your “honest, straightforward answers” mean nothing when a town hall presenter fumbles and refuses to talk openly to your members. If you’re promoting a glamorous, fun music festival on Instagram, there better at least be a music festival.

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